"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."

John Lennon (1940 – 1980), British musical artist
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This free ESL lesson plan on dreams has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

We all dream. Sometimes literally while we sleep, other times figuratively when think of our desires. Our dreams are often forgotten when we wake up, but sometimes little details stay with us. Are our dreams trying to tell us something about ourselves? Could our subconscious be trying to give us advice or warn us about something? Despite attempts by psychologists to understand, we still don’t know for sure exactly why we dream. Maybe we’re dreaming right now? In this ESL lesson plan on dreams, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as common dreams and what purpose they might serve.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Dream Day, which takes place in September. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

Mental Floss | 12 Common Dreams and What They Supposedly Mean

The article looks at the possible interpretations behind 12 of the most common dreams, including falling, teeth falling out, and showing up to work naked. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. The questions for the video are styled in a way similar to an exam like the IELTS.

The video for this class is a called “Why do we dream?” by TED Ed which looks at a number of theories that have tried to explain why we dream, including remnants of past memories and problem solving.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including what the students dream about, what dreams can tell us, and why it’s so difficult to remember dreams.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with dreams such as live the dream, daydream and pipe dream. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about political ideologies. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as why we have nightmares, whether future technology will allow us to watch our dreams back, and what dreams the students have for the future.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of dreams. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.


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